By: Sabrina Smith
Passionate Edutainer, Facilitator, Performance Coach
It’s no secret people are feeling overwhelmed because of the times we’re living in. The pandemic has brought with it not only hardships on physical health and financial health, but emotional health as well. People have responded in various ways during the pandemic from fear of contracting the virus to extended periods of isolation (and much more) in such a way that there has been a significant rise in mental health concerns worldwide.
In addition, we’re also aware of the various impacts COVID-19 has caused in the workplace including a reduction in headcount. Businesses have had to pivot to survive, and as a result, many organizations are doing more with less staff. What that means for us – as leaders – is we must lean heavily on our communication skills to help bridge the gap between personal distractions and professional demands people are facing. Here are three reminders to keep top of mind as you lead your team.
1. LEAD PEOPLE, MANAGE PROCESSES
More than ever it’s important that you build authentic relationships with your team. Sure, it may be tough in the land of online communication, but I’ve got a secret…the phone still rings and the mail is still being delivered! Everything doesn’t have to be electronic communication. I’m not knocking a Zoom video check-in, but try a phone call (make it a walking meeting!) or send a handwritten note every now and then. Demonstrate to people they honestly matter. This may take a bit more time out of your day, but it will mean the world to your team who may be feeling stressed right now.
2. SHARE FREQUENT FEEDBACK
Feedback can and should be formal and informal. Everything doesn’t have to be “official” to be effective. With people working from home, they need to know their work is making a difference (they need to know that no matter where their office is located). They need to feel connected and valued for what they bring to the table. As leaders, regular touchpoints should be a part of how we develop and support our teams.
3. ASK FOR THEIR PERSPECTIVE
It’s more important than ever that we engage our teams: Ask them what they believe is working. “What challenges are you facing?” “What ideas should we consider?” “What are we missing?” “How can I lead better?” I know our folks are bright and eager to share their perspectives if only we humbly open the doors for them to do so.
I hope you understand the criticality of communication to lead your teams during these challenging times. Becoming effective communicators will ease some of the emotional and mental health stressors our teams face, and that will free people up to feel happier and become more effective contributors in the workplace.